These days, more guys are taking their time to get hitched. Is yours one of them?
HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s crazy about you, sure, but that doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t mean heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ready to put a ring on itÃ¢â‚¬”at least, not so fast. New research reveals that men are waiting longer to get hitched than they used to: According to the most recent stats from the U.S. Census Bureau, 64 percent of men aged 25-29 had never been married, as opposed to just 19 percent in 1970.
While itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hard to pinpoint the exact cause of the Great Marriage Crash of twenty-something millennials, experts say a few factors may be contributing to the trend. Ã¢â‚¬Å“These days, people are taking longer to finish school and launch their careers,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Brad Wilcox, Ph.D., a sociologist and director of the National Marriage Project. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Men have that natural provider instinct, so they want to feel financially secure before making that kind of long-term commitment.Ã¢â‚¬Â And when it takes longer for him to get to a comfortable place in his career (thank you, crappy economy), it also takes longer for him to start thinking about marriage.
Plus, with more and more couples shacking up before tying the knot, thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s less pressure to get married becauseÃ¢â‚¬Â¦well, whereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the fire? Ã¢â‚¬Å“When you live together, you essentially get the same perks of marriageÃ¢â‚¬”sharing a home, sleeping together every night, spending more time togetherÃ¢â‚¬”which takes away the urgency to make things official,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Wilcox. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Now marriage is more of a capstoneÃ¢â‚¬”something thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s on the table once youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve gotten all your ducks in a row.Ã¢â‚¬Â
So what does that mean if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re a twenty-something woman who actually wants to get married soon-ish? Well, frankly, you could be in for a bit of frustration. Ã¢â‚¬Å“If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re itching to get married and heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s still on the fence, pushing the issue is only going to make him more hesitant,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Wilcox. A better strategy: If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re at a stage where youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re seriously considering a timeline for getting hitched, have a serious conversation with your guy about where you stand, both now and down the road. Make it less about how you want a ring ASAP and more about how itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s something youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d like to happen in the foreseeable future. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Think of it as a barometer read for your relationship,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Wilcox. Ã¢â‚¬Å“ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a good way to recalibrate your expectations, as well as get him thinking long-term if he isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t already.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Curious which category your guy falls into? Fortunately, Wilcox says there are a few subtle tells guys have when theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re nowhere near ready to settle down:
He Flies Solo If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re the one always making plans with himÃ¢â‚¬”or if you find yourself constantly working your way into his busy weekend agendaÃ¢â‚¬”it might be a red flag that heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not so ready for the his and hers bathrobes just yet. Ã¢â‚¬Å“You are two different people, yes, but after a certain point in your relationship, you stop operating on individual schedules and start integrating them,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Wilcox. If his default is to think in me-only terms, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s probably not intentional or maliciousÃ¢â‚¬”itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s just a sign he isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t quite ready to see himself as part of a package deal.
He Avoids Anything Even Slightly Uncomfortable No one likes to endure an awkward dinner with the possibly future in-laws. But if heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ready to lock it down, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll suck it up and do it because he knows itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s important to you and to the long-term health of your relationship. Ã¢â‚¬Å“When guys enter the more mature stages of a relationship, theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll make sacrifices and do the things they know they should, like taking the time to bond with your parents or friends, even if itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a little uncomfortable.Ã¢â‚¬Â If your guy vanishes at the first mention of a family or work event, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s probably a little immature relationship-wise and needs more time to get comfortable.
Most of His Friends Are Single Whether he knows it or not, your guyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s core group subconsciously shapes the way he thinks and actsÃ¢â‚¬”so if his friends are all living the bachelor life, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll be more inclined to associate himself with that lifestyle, too. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Guys with married friends may generally feel more comfortable taking the leap themselves since marriage is less of an unknown and they can picture themselves in the situation,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Wilcox. Ã¢â‚¬Å“But if heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s constantly surrounded by other men who have yet to take the plunge, marriage is likely not something heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s actively thinking about.Ã¢â‚¬Â
He Has No Big-Picture Plans And weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not just talking a timeline for when heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s planning to pop the question. If your guy is uncertain about his job situation and/or doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have concrete goals for what he wants to do or where he wants to be in, say, five years, chances are heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not ready to start thinking seriously about whom heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll spend the rest of his life with. Ã¢â‚¬Å“If heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s not considering the future in other aspects of his life, heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s probably not in the state of mind to make decisions about his long-term love life, either,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Wilcox. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Guys need to be settled into some type of track career-wise before even thinking about settling down romantically.Ã¢â‚¬Â
If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re nodding your head Ã¢â‚¬Å“Yes!Ã¢â‚¬Â to any of the above, donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t panic. Your guy may not be ready to go ring shopping now, says Wilcox, but that doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t mean your relationship isnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t heading that wayÃ¢â‚¬”especially if youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re upfront about what you want and make it clear youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not pushing for an answer (or a question, rather) right this second.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“As things become more intimate, look for signs of commitment, like his putting you first and giving up time with friends and family to be with youÃ¢â‚¬”and reinforce your interest in a future together,Ã¢â‚¬Â says Wilcox. Ã¢â‚¬Å“If youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re open and honest about where you see the relationship going and you progress toward that future together, your patience will pay off and you will get to a place where youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re both comfortable with settling down.Ã¢â‚¬Â